By Phoenix of Elder Mountain
This weekend we did a small and more personal ceremony to make our ancestral Polish Midsummer (Kupala) Flower Crowns with local wildflowers, bringing them to life with a sacred ritual. There are a few things I did in my path this lifetime and one was to throw away all superstitions, the second was to be very discerning in mystical experiences related to ceremony and three, and a great love for Water and Fire rituals. Accepting my Mystical Fern, which is a Polish legend was a blessing in my life, and a true legend.
Fire and Water are the elements representing our soul and our emotional body, where Earth and Air represent the mind and body. Since woman’s fire and water elements are eternal, they also fall into the mysticism of rain and thunderstorms in shamanism nature’s mystical consciousness. In symbolism, its not about using fire in a physical way of the material world, its about the connection of souls in a sacred circle. Most Slavic and even Polish celebrations are devoid of such healing rites all together as the later pagan rites were more about gathering of community as a celebration of life, rather than a healing ritual of life.
But for my path, the guardian spirits have taught me that they arrive anytime we are responsible and practice purity and when both are present together in ceremony, real magic happens and the fern shines and blooms just a little more!
The three of us headed for Lake Emigrant to pick the seasonal flowers for our crowns as the month of Summer Solstice approaches. This valley is surrounded by the Siskiyou Mountains which are a coastal mountain range in the Klamath basin of northwestern California and the southwestern parts of Oregon.
We started our journey late in the morning, and then took our hike to collect roses for Brandi, who was making a Rose-Hydrosol. I began the Kupala flower crown ceremony and after we were finished with our crowns, and had enough rose petals, we went back to Elder Mountain. Brandi started making her hydrosol, and we three had a good long healing conversation around the everyday issues. I brought counsel with wisdom for the rest of the afternoon into early our evening.
At dusk, we went to toss our crowns of flowers into the pond to receive something positive from our sacrifice or attempt to overcome a personal fear (struggle) as we discussed in our healing time. The tossing of the flower crown into the life giving waters is to receive for the summer a small manifestation of blessings for health, peace and expressing our true nature. This is the symbolism of the Vesta, or the Fern Legend when it came to women’s sacred circles. We honor ourselves in the ceremony which honors our ancestors.
Since my work involves ancient dreaming rites with sacred ceremony on the solstices and equinoxes, when it was time to end our day and go to dream, I asked Brandi and Lulu to set a sacred intention for something they needed to know brought forth from their dream that night (once they got to the yurt). Each one had their dream and we discussed it in the morning over breakfast and this finished our ceremony completing the dawn.
The magical flower crowns made at the Midsummer celebrations of course, is a very beautiful tradition for the maiden, and the Slavic pagan rites reflect the influences of Dionysus Cult of Greece which had spread into the Balkan and Slavic lands by the way of Macedonia, and these new cults were accepted. Anytime you see Dionysus Cult symbols it will include a circle of Fire, Pan or Goat Horns, Sex with Maidens (especially dressed in white), Alcohol in its celebrations. The Island of Calypso in particular had a strong Dionysus cult and through this Paganism, a major venue for ritual involving sexual elements focusing on the maiden.
Eventually the cult lured Maidens out of the Goddess Circles which had been unbroken under the leadership by the grandmothers spirituality. On her own she fell into the hands of the church fathers and then the bride laws began. Ambrosia (the wine of the Dionysus) is sometimes depicted in ancient art as distributed by a nymph, which was symbolic for water (emotion) and nymph (maiden) labeled with that name. In the myth of Lycurgus, an opponent of the then rising importance of the wine god Dionysus, violence committed against Ambrosia turned her into a grapevine, or the life force that fed the sex and alcohol cult. Some modern ethnomycologists, such as Danny Staples, identify ambrosia with the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria which would then add drugs and alcohol to the cult of Dionysus. These ceremonies (not temples) were included in Kupala after the 12th century and many other places over a five centuries in the Mediterranean, Poland (Dionizy), Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungaria, Thebes, Thracian, Romania, Belarus, and more.
The etymology of Calypso’s name is from καλύπτω (kalyptō), meaning “to cover”, “to conceal”, “to hide”, or “to deceive” in which the Dyonisus Cult had reached great powers once he was aligned with the law of the Apollo Cults. According to the Etymologicum Magnum, her name means καλύπτουσα το διανοούμενον (kalýptousa to dianooúmenon), i.e. “concealing the knowledge”, which combined with the Homeric epithet δολόεσσα (dolóessa), meaning subtle or wily, justifies the hermetic character of Calypso and her island. καλύπτω is derived from Proto-Indo-European *kel, making it cognate with the English word Hell. Pagan and Patriarchal rules tend to focus on Grandfather and the Maiden and all the stories, rituals, gods, fairy tales and folklore show us this, but now these are beginning to dissolve as the circle returns.
Polish traditions believe in powerful energy and as I got older, especially dedication to sobriety in my spiritual healing journey and shaman’s initiations I became pure from no illusion causing substances such as any medicine, antibiotics or alcohol (pot) or shamanic drugs/plants etc., I began to feel the power energy of mother earth even stronger through decades of equinoxes and solstices. Energetically it got so powerful it was overwhelming as I could feel an earthquake in my body, even though it was a thousand miles away.
All the treasures of wisdom of the fern were true and were revealed, it is a real thing and a frightening one when it began. I live and practice the seasonal 13 moon cycles and it did provide me with great wealth and happiness once all my shamanic and dreaming initiations were completed, which took 40 years of dedication and death, transformation and rebirth. Its not a legend for me, its definitely a real life.
The Element Factor: Water is the element needed in the season of Fire (Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice) and Fire is the element needed in the season of Night for warmth (Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice), these were the older origins of elements used in pre-pagan rituals. Fire was never used in in summer in grandmother’s tradition. The fire rites were brought in from foreign lands when the Greek, Romans, Turks and a few other Grandfather rites, had all accepted the Dionysus Cult (fire, alcohol and virgin maidens). Archaic fire rites were only reserved for the Winter Solstice Rites in Slavic shamanism and there was a direct weaving of summer and winter, linking Marzanna to the seasonal progressions of death and rebirth rites in one 13 moon year. These two ceremonies work together and I work them together as part of my ceremonial work.
My Marzanna rituals of the Winter Solstice and the Vesta Water Rites (Kupala or the Midsummer) is something I weave together through the waters of our sacred pond here on the land. In pre-paganism archaic rites of the Grandmothers, the Season of Night (Autumn and Winter) and the Season of Fire (Spring and Summer) had been specifically done to maintain intuitive, dreaming and visionary powers at higher levels from sacred ceremony of purity and healing emotional work of women. Maidens and adult aged women did the purification rites to maintain strength, right relationship and self trust, in order to grow into leadership (which all women are capable of doing). I bring back the fire and water rites back into their original seasons for balance.
The three of us are Polish maidens, mothers and grandmothers trinity (by our ages) and we completed our ceremony in a sacred and wonderful way. Blessings to all of you as your first moon of Summer arrives Friday, June 23, 2017 at 7:32 pm near the Summer Solstice on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:24 pm.
To read more about Kupala in the post 12th century
(modern pagan rites) go to a wonderful article written
by Lamus Dworski @ https://lamusdworski.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/midsummer
Illustration: “Fern Eyes” by Elsa Mora; photos by Brandi.